Nassau County puts parents and guardians on notice, pushing new ‘Social Host’ law to combat opioids

MINEOLA, N.Y. — Nassau County lawmakers joined Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder and District Attorney Madeline Singas to introduce new legislation that would expand the “Social Host” law.

The expanded law, if passed, would make parents, guardians, and older siblings criminally and civilly liable if controlled substances like opioids are consumed in private homes, rental units, or other places where adults are in charge.

“I think this is a wakeup call to parents they will be held responsible,” said DA Singas.

Commissioner Ryder gave disturbing descriptions of pill parties where adolescents and teens pass around opioid painkillers taken from a bowl, keeping an antidote called Narcan on the side, in case someone overdoses.

“The first kid that goes down, they ‘Narcan’ and bring him back,” Commissioner Ryder said. “And some of this is posted on social media.”

Unfortunately, Narcan—which is used to re-start the respiratory system—doesn’t work all the time, since deadly fentanyl is often laced into fake pills, along with heroin doses.

The legislation was introduced by Nassau County legislators Laura Schaefer and Thomas McKevitt, and it would serve as an expansion of the original Social Host law passed in July 2007—to hold adults responsible for underage alcohol consumption in households.

“Opioid use needs to be taken seriously by everyone,” Legislator Schaefer said. “By including controlled substances in our Social Host law, we are all forced to take a closer look at what our children and their friends are doing under our own roofs.”

The initial crime would be considered an unclassified misdemeanor with a fine of $250. After a third offense, an adult could face up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Commissioner Ryder also said offenders could face forfeitures of their homes.

Nassau County made its move in the midst of a national opioid crisis that’s a public health emergency.

An average of 115 Americans a day die from fatal opioid overdoses.

Available statistics from 2016 revealed 42,000 people died from opioid overdoses that year.

Between 2000 and 2016, 600,000 people died from drug overdoses, and that huge number was largely driven by opioid addiction.

Nassau and Suffolk counties have been hit hard by opioid addiction and overdoses.

New York City had more than 1,300 fatal overdoses in 2016, and we’re waiting for the official numbers for 2017.

Also Monday, Suffolk County drug dealer James Fava was sentenced to four to six years in state prison for selling the fatal dose of fentanyl that killed 27-year-old Bryan Gallagher.

Fava is the first person in New York State to plead guilty to manslaughter for making what turned into a lethal drug sale.

Before he was sent away to prison, Fava apologized to Gallagher’s family and said Gallagher was like a brother that he never intended to hurt.